A new group exhibition at Synthesis Gallery presents work by Carla Gannis, Mohsen Hazrati and Christopher Meerdo. Recollecting Futures is curated by synthesis gallery’s Miriam Arbus and PYLON’s Julia Schmelzer. As part of the exhibition, Gannis presents the new chapter of her wwwunderkammer project.
Together, the three artists explore archiving; “how we store, evaluate and share information and memories, and how archives will be structured in our future of mixed realities.” - Recollecting Futures Press Release, synthesis gallery.
Presented online in synthesis gallery’s Mozilla Hubs space, Recollecting Futures asks what happens to information when stored as discrete bits, stored and shared online, and processed by algorithms. Do internet archives act as a sprawling collective memory? What happens to an algorithm, and the stories and memories it is linked to, over time as it is continually fed new information? By posing questions like this, the exhibition attempts to digest phenomena we are living through, whose enormity will likely only be understood in time; and in doing so to consider practical ways in which we can keep, maintain and grow archives in future.
Gannis’ wwwunderkammer (pictured top) is an expanding multimedia project inspired by the Wunderkammer of the 1700s - Cabinets of Curiosity, ancestors of museums. These cabinets were sprawling arrangements of curiosities - specimens, instruments and collected objects from across the world. They acted as both displays and evolving archives. Gannis’ wwwunderkammer brings this concept into the 21st Century, presenting an evolving digital and mixed-reality cabinet of curiosities:
“...the artist has collected and created remixes of physical objects and 3D virtual objects from across the global internet representing topics of interest: endangered species, emerging species,and climate change; politics, networks, and digital semiotics; decolonization and global pluralism; humor as salve and feminist salvation; obsolete and emerging technologies; and sex and comfort in tech. There is also a small library including book titles by Doris Lessing, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, and Mary Shelley. Embedded in every cabinet and as texture maps on creatures and environments, there is imagery generated by the Playform AI platform.” - Recollecting Futures.
For Recollecting Futures the project expands with a series of interviews with artists, scientists, theorists, researchers and activists, featuring studio assistant and producer Sue Roh and the seven avatars inhabiting the wwwunderkammer universe. Throughout the exhibition, these interviews will contribute to new “wwwunder chambers” based on the objects and experiences that motivate the interviewees; these chambers will be accessible from the project’s main chamber.
In Repetitious Redundancies (above), Mohsen Hazrati presents a series of virtual spaces which examine the relationship between artefact and symbol, personal and impersonal. The project defines everything by the genetive case - the grammatical case which defines a word (often a noun) by its relationships to other words or entities. The virtual spaces in the project explore complex relationships dynamically, while emphasising the derivative nature of finding meaning when everything is relative.
The Search (above), a project by Christopher Meerdo, foregrounds the data archive as an active and powerful agent in the production of meaning, the distribution of information, and the consolidation of power. Today’s archive is steeped in data, an entity which is both impassive and powerful, whose reach is international and which is processed quietly in the background. Meerdo uses a variety of methods - “data processing, image-synthesis, computational sculpture and moving images” - to explore the agency of data in the production and preservation of contemporary identity and culture.